ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – One of the greatest local wrestlers of all-time continues to be remembered.
On Saturday, July 23, The 25th Annual Jeff Reese Memorial Golf Event will be held at Tomasso’s Golf Course in Waverly. The entry list of full of teams that have full hearts in memory of Jeff Reese, a local wrestling legend who won a New York State Championship at Elmira Southside High School in 1995.
Reese then went on to earn a scholarship at The University of Michigan to compete for the Wolverines in The Big Ten Conference. After earning the program’s Most Improved Wrestler, Reese sadly died in 1997 while trying to lose weight in an effort to make the lineup.
The passing of Reese changed the sport of wrestling on every level for weight loss and certifications. New sanctions were established in the sport calculating weight loss percentages in order to see where a grappler could compete at a determined weight safely.
Now, 25 years later, the tournament that bears his name is stronger than ever. Jeff’s father, Ed Reese, has led the charge every year of the event which has generated thousands in scholarship money and camp funding for wrestling. Ed says keeping Jeff’s memory alive will never leave his heart.
“Sometimes it feels like yesterday and sometimes it feels like 50 years ago,” Ed Reese said about the loss of his son Jeff. “It’s something that I have a lot of pride in putting on the golf tournament every year.”
Reese also says that one of the shining moments of the year is the golf tournament as it proves not only how much Jeff was loved, but his impact continues to bring people together.
“I got a letter recently from one of Jeff’s friends who’s from out of town, he thanked me for putting on the tournament every year because it’s like a reunion.”
The Reese golf tournament is one of the area’s longest running memorial golf tournaments. And, come next Saturday, the memory and legacy of Jeff Reese will be alive and well in the spirit of the sport.